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The best argument against Ayn Rand ever read if you dare.



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reedr3v's picture

I'll assume in this comment that

Prescott didn't distort Rand's statements. I do think he glossed over her clear statement that she detested Hickman's sociopathic behavior, as she detested all aggression and injustice.
Perhaps Prescott wrote this for the few Rand cultists left who deny flaws in their heroine. I've never met any, so they may be a figment of his imagination.
Or Prescott may not be aware of the common failure of many quite prominent intellectuals of different persuasions to gloss over far worse advocacy in many of their heroes. Try the many socialist novelists and statesmen of Rand's time who found Hitler quite intriguing; and even after his crimes were open some still advocated some of his state collectivist methods.
Or how about the far more numerous and very prominent academicians and intellectuals who, to this day, support Communism despite the multi-millions murdered, starved, and tortured by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and the totalitarian crimes of the great hero Castro, etc?
Just sayin', there may be a reason to dwell on Rand's unfortunate choice of an "independent loner" model; but on the scale of twisted artistic deceptions, it is small potatoes indeed.

Why is the critique always about Rand ...

and not about Objectivism?

It is the same old trap.

When describing the pillars of Objectivism, Rand always comes back to the necessity for constantly acquiring knowledge in order to make the most productive rational decisions. She even says that charity is right and good, not in defense of altruism, but to maximize ones own selfish endeavors.

She refers to the conscience as the core necessity for a human to exist and the sole trait of a conscience is the choice to learn.

I always thought that Dagney's wierd sexual turn ons were a bit odd, but when taken in context, the author was attemting to convey a single point or a very small finite number of points.

Yes, Reardon could have had this odd little selfish quirck that he also liked to mutilate whores on weekends, but what does that have to do with the price of apples.

She was focused on the rational side of humanity and ignored the irrational. If I have a critical thought regarding Rand, that would be it. But on the other hand, how do you explain irrational thought and behavior other than to explain it away as a "slip" and forgetting to aquire knowledge before acting.

Erm

So far, this piece is devoid of a single argument. I'm reading a lot of misinterpretation in the form of, "She admired the outside of the man and his:

""A wonderful, free, light consciousness" born of the utter absence of any understanding of "the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people.""

The author of the article makes the mistake in saying because Rand admires this part of the man's character, that she admires the rest. He then extrapolates the statements to be that she admired him for the murder and didn't care.

"This is not just the case of a terrible crime. It is not the crime alone that has raised the fury of public hatred. It is the case of a daring challenge to society. It is the fact that a crime has been committed by one man, alone; that this man knew it was against all laws of humanity and intended that way; that he does not want to recognize it as a crime and that he feels superior to all. It is the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul."

What she admires is that at the time, the man is claiming that what he did wasn't wrong and wasn't bending before society's collective will. Was the guy wrong? Absolutely, and murder goes FAR against all of Rand's initiation of force arguments. She acknowledges the man's crime, but what she's commenting on is society's reaction. You can see the same reaction in the fact that Charlie Sheen managed to get more airtime than the Egyptian revolution.

The author attempts to make the claim that because Rand admires extremism, that she would thus admire murder and torture when done in the extreme. It's a cheap whiny attempt at an argument. The equivalent of saying, "Oh you admire Kobe Bryant's basketball ability? Well, you MUST love raping 16 year old girls, because Kobe does that too!"

At one point, a sliver of near-rationality breaks through the fog of Rand's delusions: "I am afraid that I idealize Hickman and that he might not be this at all. In fact, he probably isn't." Her moment of lucidity is short-lived. "But it does not make any difference. If he isn't, he could be, and that's enough."

The author is forgetting that for the most part, Rand is talking about an imagined version of Hickman, using what she saw in his exterior as a potential character for a story.

"There is a lot that is purposely, senselessly horrible about him. But that does not interest me..."

And here you see again, here damning the parts of the man as senselessly horrible. There are good parts to people and bad parts to people. Some people have heroically good parts to them and villainous bad parts to them. The intellectual fraud the author engages in here is to say that by admiring one part of a person, you also admire the other horrible parts of a person.

Eric Hoffer

I started reading it.

When does it start to critique instead of, "She's a big meenie"